£100m fund for univer­sity spin-outs in AI and biomedics

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By James Cook

UNIVER­SITY Col­lege Lon­don has launched a new £100m in­vest­ment fund to back univer­sity spin-outs de­vel­op­ing med­i­cal re­search as well as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) projects.

The new UCL Tech­nol­ogy Fund is backed by Bri­tish Pa­tient Cap­i­tal, as well as UCL it­self and other in­vestors from the US and Asia. It will be man­aged by Lon­don-head­quar­tered in­vest­ment firm Al­bionVC.

“There will def­i­nitely be a bio­med­i­cal fo­cus,” said Anne Lane, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of UCL’s com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion com­pany. The fund will also back AI busi­nesses as well as com­pa­nies de­vel­op­ing new quan­tum com­put­ing tech­nol­ogy. The fund does not an­tic­i­pate any prob­lems in find­ing med­i­cal in­vest­ments fol­low­ing the coron­avirus pan­demic, said An­drew El­der, a deputy man­ag­ing part­ner at Al­bionVC. “It’s still go­ing to be a very good place to be in­vest­ing. Sci­en­tific re­search is not go­ing to be neg­a­tively im­pacted.”

UCL pre­vi­ously ran a smaller in­vest­ment fund that re­sulted in two of the com­pa­nies it backed go­ing public in New York. Another in­vest­ment from the fund, UCL spin-out Blooms­bury AI, was ac­quired by Face­book for up to $30m (£22m) in 2018.

The new fund comes af­ter re­search pub­lished in Fe­bru­ary found that in­vest­ment into UK spin-outs dropped in 2019. An­a­lyt­ics firm Beauhurst found that 334 in­vest­ment deals were made into spin-outs last year, down from 358 in 2018. The to­tal amount in­vested also dropped to £1.24bn, down from £1.38bn in the pre­vi­ous year.

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